If you’ve been watching what you eat all year and trying to get - or stay - in shape, you may be worried that your summer vacation will undo all the good you’ve been doing your body all year.
To an extent, that concern is justified. A margarita every night on the beach or a week of restaurant meals can quickly add up to equal those 5 pounds you managed to shed this spring. But taking a break from the stress of everyday life shouldn’t mean taking a break from a healthy lifestyle.
To get some tips on how to eat healthfully while on vacation and navigate the perils of an airport food court, we turned to Jamie Mascari, a registered dietitian in Baton Rouge with expertise in fitness and nutrition:
What are the best ways to manage your weight while on vacation?
Planning ahead is essential. Research the airport food courts, dining locations for your road trip stops, hotel menu and restaurants in the vicinity of your destination. Make a list of the eateries that have a variety of nutritious, low-calorie options and keep it on hand with you during your trip.
Also, make time to work out. It may be the last thing you want to do on vacation, but there are fun ways to stay active while traveling. Consider signing up for a walking tour, bike ride or mountain hike. You’ll burn some calories while experiencing the city/country in which you are staying. The hotel fitness room is also a good option and a great place to meet locals and other tourists who can give you helpful tips about the area.
What’s the biggest obstacle to healthful eating on vacation?
Overindulgence. You don’t have to pass up local dishes, delectable desserts or tasty cocktails, by the way. The problem occurs when vacationers consume high-calorie, high-fat, high-sugar items at every meal. It’s all about balance! Try incorporating lower-calorie, nutritious meals and snacks throughout the day if you plan on having a bigger dinner that night. And most importantly, don’t skip any meals. Going more than five hours without a meal or snack can lead to overindulging at the next meal.
What should you eat when you’re in an airport or on the road and the options are pretty much limited to overpriced junk food?
This is where planning ahead comes into play again. If possible, pack some wholesome, on-the-go snacks in your purse or carry-on bag. Examples include high fiber granola bars, apples, bananas, peanut butter and jelly on whole-wheat bread, baby carrots and celery sticks in a plastic baggie, and trail mix.
Pack water bottles for road trips to stay hydrated. If you are going through an airport, bring an empty water bottle to get you through security and then fill it up at a water fountain. Having your own snacks on hand will not just save you money, but it will also save you time and calories.
If you prefer not to carry food with you, look back at the dining list you prepared or walk around the airport or convenience store to survey the choices available.
Steer clear of greasy pizzas, candy stores and pastry shops. Go for foods such as low-fat yogurt, fresh fruit smoothies, high-fiber cereal or granola bars, a deli sandwich on whole-wheat bread or tortilla, or a grilled chicken salad.
In the next Food for Fitness column, Mascari will share her six tips on successfully navigating a restaurant menu. For more information, contact Mascari at (504) 874-1001 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.